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UNC first-year hopes to 'provide a youthful perspective' on county advisory board


UNC first-year and Robertson Scholar, Adejuwon Ojebuoboh, will serve on Orange County's Housing Advisory Board. The board oversees housing needs, project proposals, and community awareness.

Four or five classes. Homework. Playing for a club or intramural sports team. Maybe a few extracurriculars. All of these seem like a normal part of the life of an average student at UNC. 

What might seem anything but ordinary is the fact that a student secured a spot in a government office, even more so when they’ve been on campus for less than two months. But that’s exactly what Adejuwon Ojebuoboh has managed to do.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Orange County Commissioners considered the applications of nominees hoping to be appointed to several different county commissions, ranging from the County Parks and Recreation Council to the Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee.

Orange County Assistant Deputy Clerk Thom Freeman said the nominations are submitted to the commissioners several days before the meeting they are meant to be discussed at. All of the appointees were confirmed via a unanimous 7-0 vote on Tuesday. 

But that’s not to say there isn’t novelty with the introduction of each nominee, which is exactly what the addition of Ojebuoboh brings to the Orange County Affordable Housing Advisory Board. 

At age 18, he is the youngest member on the board. As a young Black adult, he said he wants to provide a fresh perspective to the body on how housing issues affect the community. 

Ojebuoboh said Tai Huynh first inspired him to apply for the position. Huynh announced his candidacy for the Chapel Hill Town Council in April. Huynh has served as the vice chairperson of the Housing Advisory Board for the Town of Chapel Hill since May 2017, which is how Ojebuoboh first heard about the position.

Ojebuoboh does have a background in politics, though. He was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a small, coastal city in the state’s southeast. He lived there for several years, later moving to Nigeria for one year and to Canada for three before returning to Jacksonville in fifth grade. 

In Jacksonville, he was involved in work for the community, serving as an intern in the office of the city manager and as chairperson of the Jacksonville Youth Council. He also started a political nonprofit organization, The Institute for Effective Change, which just attained 501(c)3 status from the IRS, he said. 

“We help tackle deficient teenage civic engagement,” Ojebuoboh said.

But more importantly, he said, he wants to help teenagers have "a tangible impact on policy.” 

Ojebuoboh said he hopes to use his experience with his nonprofit to further youth involvement in government as a whole. 

“When I was in Youth Council, there were so many limitations on what I could do,” he said. 

He said he believes age is still a significant factor that may make it more difficult for people to become involved in government. He hopes to help reverse this trend in the near future.

As for affordable housing itself, Ojebuoboh said he hopes to use the experience on the board to learn more about the issue and present new solutions the county can use to help combat present and future disputes. 

“I hope I can provide a youthful perspective and the college perspective of UNC students, too, because I’ve heard a lot of complaints about people feeling like they’re being pushed out by college students moving into their neighborhoods," Ojebuoboh said. "So I hope I can provide some perspective about that.”

Even though he said this may be a large workload for an undergraduate student to take on, he considered dropping some of his other extracurricular commitments to make time for his new job with the county. 

Ojebuoboh said he hopes to make a positive change in the community he’ll call home for the next four years.


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